It was one of those overcast drizzly mornings that dampen the most of hardened spirits, so I went off and stripped a room of wallpaper.
When I emerged a couple of hours later, the sun had poked its head out and it was pleasantly warm. The Dog cocked her head expectantly – she was wanting a walk. So I tidied and with The Dog leaping excitedly around my feet, we jumped into the car and headed to the coast.
The drive over was glorious. With the sun out, the deepening autumnal colours really shone and it was beautiful. I always find autumn bittersweet – it is beautiful season, the mass of golden colours and hues, but with the knowledge that it is so short lived and winter will soon be upon us. I didn’t dwell on this fact for long and enjoyed this lovely autumn day for as long as I could.
We arrived at Hest Bank – I’ve blogged about this area before. We parked up near the railway level crossing and stood on the grassy foreshore. The Dog galloped around madly while I stood and admired the view. It was a beautiful clear day – the fells of the Lake District were sharp and clearly defined. They were blue, purple and mauve with deep shadows enhancing their shapes. The town of Grange over Sands glinted across the water and everything seemed to sparkle. It was one of those days where you felt you could ping the sky with your fingers like on glass and sing “Zippity Doo Dah”
I had a hoodie on, with a body warmer on top and thought it would be enough. Initially it felt quite warm, but while I stood, the wind started to cut through me. I nipped back to the car and retrieved my coat as another layer.
There was some cloud in the sky but as the afternoon wore on, it evaporated leaving a clear blue sky. It was a cracking day and I was so pleased to be out in it.
We wandered along – the tide was out and had left puddles of water which The Dog gleefully jumped into. She’s easily pleased. The sun highlighted the mud flats and the deep crevices and shadows. It just all really stood out.
We carried on. I had bought a coffee to go and finally finished it. With The Dog ahead of me on the beach, I quickly scuttled to my right to deposit the cup in a bin. On my return, I was expecting an anxious looking dog scampering around, ears pricked with worry, concerned about where her human had gone. I got back on the beach, I had no such welcome and for a nanosecond I worried about her whereabouts.
Suddenly I spotted four black legs waggling in the air, some 50 yards or so further up the beach. Then she leapt up, looked intensely at the ground before crashing her head and shoulders onto the pebbly beach and rolling on her back. She was so engrossed in this activity she hadn’t noticed me missing. The Dog is not one for rolling normally, so I walked up to her, hoping it wasn’t anything horrible. As I got close, I thought it was a piece of seaweed, but alas it seemed to be a body of a sea creature. It was half eaten, its skeleton revealed, but the remaining skin was brown and leathery. It looked like a porpoise – I have seen these animals beached here before – but I couldn’t confirm it. All I knew was my dog had found it very attractive and now smelt disgusting.
I kept The Dog downwind of me and we wandered on the seabed, the worms and other sand creatures buried, leaving thousands of swirls of glistening mud across the beach. A nearby cliff showed recent movement with mini land slips sliding to the pebbles below.
We came up to the big flat grasslands that are covered with pools and ponds and I encouraged The Dog to jump in them, hoping they were deep enough to submerge her and get rid of that wretched stench. Unfortunately, many of them only had water deep enough that went up to her elbows. Others times, she would be happily swimming in them.
We met a lovely man walking his Beagle and we stood and chatted. He sighed as he recounted his dog rolling on a dead porpoise a couple of weeks ago and so he confirmed my suspicions, though it was much fresher then. We admired the view together and felt incredibly lucky to live in such a great place.
There were quite a few people around, making the most of the day. Out of the wind, it was quite warm and I was regretting my layers. But where it was exposed, the wind caused the temperature to tumble and I was glad I had my coat.
We wandered back, strolling between the pools, leaping across the channels and dropping down onto the pebbles and the beach. As the sun tracked across the sky, the scenery had changed and the sharpness of the surrounding scenery had faded slightly, looking more hazy and muted. It was still glorious.
Then I got all artistic and started taking unusual shots to catch the patterns in the sand. I hadn’t brought my proper camera, but was surprised by the photos and my ability to bend down so low and get up again without assistance or toppling over. There were all sorts of footprints – humans, dogs, birds, big, small, minute, deep and light footed, all criss crossing each other mixed with the tide patterns, the worm holes and many other fascinating marks.
We got back to where we had left the car. I sat on one of the numerous benches with a little plaque on it, dedicated to someone “who loved this view“. I loved it too and sat for a long while just watching. The Dog, exhausted by her exertions, sat facing the other way, watching the railway line and briefly chasing Virgin trains as they swept through the junction, before returning and resuming her position.
With the afternoon drawing to a close, I wandered back to the car and opened the boot for the dog and began to pull off coats and body warmers. I then noticed The Dog had stopped halfway to the car and had sat down in the middle of the grass, about twenty feet away, looking at me with a depressed expression. I called her to come, but she just sat and stared. I continued my organising, glancing at her and sniggering. It was a definite message of “I don’t want to go home”. Nor do I, I thought, but tea needs to be made and you need a bath, you stinky hound. Finally, after many minutes and cajoling, with people giggling at her antics, she slowly sauntered without enthusiasm around the back of the car and jumped in with a heavy thud.
I drove slowly home, probably annoying many motorists with my dawdling, but it was such a gorgeous late afternoon and with the sun behind us, the countryside just glowed. It was just wonderful. You just had to make the most of it. Tomorrow would probably be piddling down with rain.